Frequently Asked Questions

Mission and Vision

Why does the National Speech & Debate Association exist?
The NSDA was originally founded as the National Forensic League, which Bruno E. Jacob of Ripon College in Wisconsin created in 1925 to motivate high school students to participate in speech and debate activities. Today, the organization’s mission is to connect, support, and inspire a diverse community committed to empowering students through speech and debate.
 
We envision a world in which every school provides speech and debate programs to foster each student’s communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative skills.
 
Membership is the primary gateway to those benefits, but we also provide leadership in topic development, rule-making, and the setting of competitive and ethical standards that help facilitate the activity at a local and national level. Many resources we create or curate are publicly available for new coaches and programs to get started and create a fair and inclusive environment for speech and debate students.

Local and National Leadership

Where does the NSDA operate?

The organization’s national headquarters are in West Des Moines, Iowa. Our national staff are based there and in a few remote locations around the country. The NSDA Board of Directors is comprised of individuals elected at-large from around the country and other professionals appointed by the Board for their expertise and commitment to the activity.

At the local level, the NSDA is represented by District Committees, of which there are 111. The five committee members, led by a district chair, are elected by the advisors of active NSDA schools every two years to serve in this role. Each district also has the opportunity to appoint a sixth member to advance representation in an underrepresented area. Each district holds its own district tournament, the qualifying tournament for Nationals for high school students, and finds ways to support the growth and development of local programs. High schools are assigned a district after joining the organization.

How do I pursue a leadership role in the NSDA?
District leadership elections are held every two years, in odd-numbered years. In the election, each chapter advisor may cast a ballot online for members of the District Committee from a list of coaches who are active (affiliated with a school) in the district. Each school has one vote.

The first step is to let your fellow district coaches know you are interested in serving. Coaches who work with teams in more than one geographic district may stand for election to both districts. However, the coach may only serve on one District Committee at a time. In the event of election to two districts, the coach will be required to choose one district to serve and decline the other spot.

Board of Directors elections are conducted in even numbered years. Any member coach with five years of Association coaching experience (i.e., coaching as an NSDA member) may become a candidate for the Board by advising the Executive Director in writing before January 20 of the even numbered year via certified mail.

All candidates are allotted a column in Rostrum, our coach magazine, to support their candidacy. Each chapter votes online for up to four directors, and each active member school may cast one ballot.

Other, less formal options for leadership exist at the National Tournament and through resource creation or member feedback groups throughout the year. Volunteers are essential to maximizing our output as a nonprofit organization! Please contact director@speechanddebate.org if you would like to be considered for this type of contribution.

Membership Sign Up and Renewal

How do I sign up for the first time or renew?
  • Program advisors can visit www.speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Account” in the upper right corner, which will take you to your profile page. Please click “Renew School”, in red, from the left menu and follow the prompts at the top of the page to renew your school.
    • High school membership is $149, with an option to upgrade to the all-school team Resource Package for an additional $199. Each individual high school student membership is a one-time $20 fee.
    • Middle school membership is $75, with an option to upgrade to the all-school team Resource Package for an additional $199. Each individual middle school student membership is a one-time $10 fee.
  • To finalize the renewal, follow the prompts on the page to review the following:
    Step 1. Confirm information on the school profile page. Once confirmed/updated, click the “Next Step” button.
    Step 2. Confirm the coaches listed. Once confirmed/updated, click the “Next Step” button.
    Step 3. Create the invoice. The annual dues are automatically selected. You can use the toggle to select other options such as coach memberships, student memberships, insurance, and the Resource Package. The prices for each item are listed on the right side of your screen, and a running total is at the bottom in blue. When done, “Create Invoice and Proceed to Checkout”.
    The system allows you to “Pay Now”, with a credit card or you can email the invoice to yourself or print out the pdf.

Need a Visual? Click here to watch our brief tutorial!

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How to Create and Link an Account

Read below to learn how to link accounts for students, advisors, and coaches or assistant coaches on your team.
Prefer to watch a video demonstration? Click here!

How to Create and Link a Student Account

  1. Visit www.speechanddebate.org/join.
  2. Fill in the required fields and click on the blue Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  3. The next page explains how to link your new account to your school so you can access member resources. It reads: “Log in to the account you just created below.”
  4. If you don’t see your Account page, you can get there by clicking the Account link in the upper right corner of the page.
  5. Click the blue Link To A School button and follow the on-screen directions.
  6. Enter whether you are a middle school or high school student, then add your state and city, and look for your school in the “School Name” drop down.
  7. When you locate your school, select “Request Access” and your program advisor will have the opportunity to approve the link request. If you can’t find your school, select “I can’t find my school!” and it will direct you to search from another list. If you still don’t find your school, please email us!


How to Create and Link an Advisor Account

If your school is joining for the first time, please follow this process. Advisors are the main contact for a speech and debate program at a school. Among other permissions, they can create and pay invoices for school, student, and coach memberships. For more information on advisor vs. coach accounts, see Member Roles and Account Permissions.

  1. Visit www.speechanddebate.org/join.
  2. Fill in the required fields and click on the blue Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  3. The next page explains how to link your new account to your school so you can access member resources. It reads: “Log in to the account you just created below.”
  4. If you don’t see your Account page, you can get there by clicking the Account link in the upper right corner of the page.
  5. Use the links on the Account page to request access to your school. If you need help, please email us!


How to Create and Link a Coach or Assistant Coach Account

An adult who has an account linked to their school but is not an advisor is known as a coach.

  1. Visit www.speechanddebate.org/join.
  2. Fill in the required fields and click on the blue Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  3. The next page explains how to link your new account to your school so you can access member resources. It reads: “Log in to the account you just created below.”
  4. If you don’t see your Account page, you can get there by clicking the Account link in the upper right corner of the page.
  5. Click the blue Link To A School button, enter whether you are a middle school or high school coach, then add your state and city, and look for your school in the “School Name” drop down.
  6. When you locate your school, select “Request Access” and your program advisor will have the opportunity to approve the link request. If you can’t find your school, select “I can’t find my school!” and it will direct you to search from another list. If you still don’t find your school, please email us!
What is an Advisor?

There are three main roles on an NSDA speech and debate team: advisors, coaches, and students. Check out our Member Roles and Account Permissions guide to see what each group can access from their NSDA account dashboards based on their role and permissions.

The previous advisor left the school. How do I make myself the current advisor?

Mid-year advisor changes (for schools already activated) require an email from the principal or head school administrator, indicating there is a change in advisor and confirming who that advisor is. The email should be sent to info@speechanddebate.org.

May homeschooled students join the National Speech & Debate Association?

Students must join an NSDA member school in order to be eligible for membership as an individual. A school is an accredited, diploma-granting public or private entity recognized by the state. In most states, homeschooled students must compete in academic or extracurricular activities through their zoned school district. The NSDA looks to the individual states to determine what makes for a recognized school. If your state recognizes individual homeschools for participation in school-based activities, your homeschool may be eligible for membership. Contact your state’s activities association to find out more or email info@speechanddebate.org.

Getting Started as a Member

What are the first things I should do after joining?

Learning the Basics: Learn the ins and outs of coaching in our Intro to NSDA Coaching course! This course is hosted on our learning management system, NSDA Learn, where you can enroll in courses and complete them at your leisure. You can also check out our New Coach Quick Start Guide for helpful tips on the beginning stages of setting up your team. If you get stuck, just reach out and let us know!

Event Overviews: The sheer number of choices for speech and debate activities can be overwhelming, but never fear! Explore the Competition Events page to see descriptions of events, sample videos, and explanations from students. You’ll be an expert in no time! Interested in what students are debating right now? Head over to the Topics page to take a look—and remember, now you can help us select upcoming topics!

Access Resources: As a member, you have access to videos of performances, lesson plans, speech resources, debate evidence and updates, and webinars. Visit our Resources page and skim what’s available or use the filter boxes to sort by event. Tips for accessing resources:

  • Make sure you are logged in to your member account. Your school must have the Resource Package to access resources labeled “Resource Pkg.”
  • Use the filters in the word cloud on the left side of your screen to narrow down the list of resources in the table. Click on one or more relevant tags.
  • Type keywords in the search bar to filter the list further.
  • In the top line of the table, sort by clicking the arrows next to Title, Date, or Access.

Interested in even more great resources to help you get started? Check out the additional tools you can access with a Resource Package!

Prepare to Compete: Check out tournaments in your area on our Calendar and start planning to bring your team out for their first speech and debate experience.

Expand Your Resume: While your students learn and grow, remember to plan your development as a coach by perusing our professional development options.

Explore the Honor Society: Members are eligible to join our Honor Society! Your students will earn points through speech and debate competition, as well as community service, public speaking, and leadership activities. Plus, you’ll be working toward higher degrees, too! The points your students earn are added to your coach record and lead to special recognition over time. Learn more about earning recognition here!

We’ll Be in Touch: Be on the lookout for our weekly coach newsletter where we’ll share what’s new and noteworthy in the world of speech and debate. If you need anything in the meantime, be sure to reach out!

What can I do in my role?: There are three main roles on an NSDA speech and debate team: advisors, coaches, and students. Check out what each group can access from their NSDA account dashboards based on their role and permissions.

School Roster and Points Management

What is points entry and how do I do it?

One of the cornerstone offerings of membership is the Honor Society, which allows schools to maintain their student roster online on our website and add points for their participation in competitive events and service activities. As these points accumulate, students achieve higher levels, or degrees, in the Honor Society. Coaches also earn all of the students’ points toward their own levels of recognition.

Students can be added to rosters and given points before they are made members by paying the fee, and can earn up to 75 points before the advisor decides to purchase their membership. Points can be added manually by the advisor, who can enter results from tournaments for each student, or automatically if the tournament runs via Tabroom.com, Joy of Tournaments, or SpeechWire.

When a student earns 25 points, they earn the Degree of Merit, which makes them eligible to compete at the district tournament. For more information on earning degrees, visit the Honor Society page of our website.

To learn more about points entry, visit our Points Entry page!

How to Add Points Using +Add Row
  1. Go to speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click the “Account” button, in the upper right-hand corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen click on Enter Points. The screen that opens will say Enter Points for <School Name>. (If auto posted points need to be confirmed, you’ll instead see a screen requesting you to do so. For more information about this process, see the directions for Confirming Pending Autoposted Points. If you’d like to skip confirming autoposted points, click on the red outline box that says Not now, skip to manual entry.)
  3. The tables you see at the top of the screen provide you information about how points are calculated for different types of competitive events. If you don’t need this information, it is collapsible by clicking the triangle next to the words Point Values.
  4. Enter the information about the tournament your students attended. If you are entering service points, you will put the type of service in the first box.
  5. Scroll down to the box that says Choose Student. Begin selecting the correct student, category, and coach. Then enter their ranks or win/loss/no decision record.
  6. To add additional students (or events for a student), click on the blue outlined box that says + Add Row. Enter the required information. Repeat as needed.
  7. When finished adding students and/or events, click on the blue outlined box that says Finish.
  8. You’ll be asked to confirm the entries you are about to make and to certify that the points were earned in accordance with the NSDA Code of Honor. Once you’ve clicked I agree, click the blue outlined box that say Confirm.
  9. Repeat as needed.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!

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How to Add Points Using Bulk Add
  1. Go to www.speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click the “Account” button, in the upper right-hand corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen click on Enter Points. The screen that opens will say Enter Points for <School Name>. (If auto posted points need to be confirmed, you’ll instead see a screen requesting you to do so. For more information about this process, see the directions for Confirming Pending Auto Posted Points. If you’d like to skip confirming auto posted points, click on the red outline box that says Not now, skip to manual entry.)
  3. The tables you see at the top of the screen provide you information about how points are calculated for different types of competitive events. If you don’t need this information, it is collapsible by clicking the triangle next to the words Point Values.
  4. Enter the information about the tournament your students attended. If you are entering service points, you will put the type of service in the first box.
  5. Scroll down to the blue outlined button that says Bulk Add and click on the button.
  6. Click on the names of the students you’d like to enter points for. Once you’ve selected all of the students needed, scroll down so that you see the rows with each students name, category, and coach. (You can change all of these categories at once by changing the Default Category and Default Coach and then clicking the blue outlined box with the words Apply All.)
  7. Then enter their ranks or win/loss/no decision record.
  8. After entering the required information, scroll down to the last row of entries and click the blue outline box that says Finish.
  9. You’ll be asked to confirm the entries you are about to make and to certify that the points were earned in accordance with the NSDA Code of Honor. Once you’ve clicked I agree then click the blue outlined box that says Confirm. If you enter one whole event’s worth of points and go all the way through to confirm them, the system will clear the entries but keep your previously entered tournament info so you don’t have to re-enter the tournament information.
  10. Repeat as needed.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!

Can I manually add points to more than one student at a time?

There are ways to make points entry for multiple students more efficient.

1. Entering points in partner events: Add a row and provide information for one student, then use the Clone a Row (icon: two overlapping boxes) function on the far right of that row to create a new entry for which you only need to change the student’s name to their partner’s.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!
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2. Entering all the points for one event at once: Add a row and provide the event and coach to whom the points will go, then click the Bulk Add button to select all the students who competed in that event for whom you want to apply points. Once you’ve added all the students, use the Clone to All (icon: the blue group) on the far right of the first student’s row to apply the event and coach information to all the entries. Then enter the appropriate points for each student, hit Finish, and you can do the same thing for another event.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!
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3. Entering service points for a group: Follow the same steps you would to enter several students in the same event, but also complete the service description and results to apply all the information to the students you’ve submitted in Bulk Add at once using the Clone to All function.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!
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What are autoposted points?

The more efficient way to enter student points is with the autoposting feature. Points for tournaments hosted on Tabroom.com, Joy of Tournaments, or SpeechWire are available for autoposting within two weeks of the tournament date. Advisors can log in and confirm pending autoposted points rather than calculating them and entering them manually.

In order for points to show in auto post, when clicking “Enter Points”, a student must be linked from the NSDA roster to the program used (ie: Tabroom, SpeechWire and Joy of tournaments). For Joy of tournaments click “Refresh NSDA Student List” from the “Entries” tab.

How do I confirm pending autoposted points?
    1. Go to www.speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Account” in the upper right corner, which will take you to your profile page. (Please note, in order to confirm pending autoposted points, you have to be a chapter advisor or a coach with permissions.)
    2. On the left side of your screen, click on Enter Points. If you have autoposted points that you need to confirm, a screen will load that has the title Confirm Pending Autoposted Points for <School Name>.
    3. If you are concerned that the pending autoposted points were manually entered, click the box next to words Show overlaps with manual points. This will highlight the already-entered points in red. If points were already entered manually, then you should click Ignore for each entry that has already been entered manually. This will take the entry off the autopost points page so you will no longer see it.
    4. Check the autoposted entries for result and coach accuracy. Change the coach as needed. When ready to confirm points, click on the blue outlined button that says Confirm. If you’d like to confirm all autoposted points, you may also click on Confirm All.
    5. If a pending autopost entry shows incorrect results, then you should contact Tabroom.com, The Joy of Tournaments, or SpeechWire because the actual results may need editing. Or, you can manually enter points for the same dates as the autoposted tournament and not use the autoposted points. If you manually enter points, then you should go in and click Ignore for the entry that you entered manually so it disappears from the autopost points list.
      Entering manually does not apply to District and National points as the point values are higher than other tournaments. If a district or national auto post entry is incorrect, they should contact the National Office.
How do I correct points that have been entered incorrectly?

Note: In order to maintain accurate records, points are not editable. If points have been entered incorrectly, the record must be deleted and re-entered. This allows the NSDA to maintain a record of all changed/deleted points.

  1. Go to speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Account” in the upper right corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen, click on Enter Points. The screen that opens will say Enter Points for <School Name>. (Note: If Auto Posted points need to be confirmed, you’ll instead see a screen requesting you to do so. For more information about this process, see the directions for How to confirm pending autoposted points. If you’d like to skip confirming autoposted points, click on the red outline box that says Not now, skip to manual entry.)
  3. Scroll down to “Recent Point Entries” in the table at the bottom that need to be corrected and click the red trash icon in that row (in the Delete? column). The page will ask you to confirm your choice to delete. Click Confirm in the orange box. (Note: Only the last 6 months of entered points will show here. If points are older than 6 months, please email info@speechanddebate.org with the details of what needs to be deleted and we can take care of that for you.)
  4. You’ll know you successfully deleted the points when they disappear from your screen.
  5. Reenter the points in question as if entering them for the first time.
  6. Repeat as needed.

Need a Visual? Click here to watch our brief tutorial!

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Help! I forgot my username/password or can't get signed in!

If you’re having trouble getting signed in, you can reset your password by clicking the link at the bottom of the Member Login page, or using the direct links below:

Forgot your password?

If you don’t remember your username, which has to be an email address, you’ll need to contact us.

Make sure to check your spam folder if you don’t get the reset/reminder email!

If you didn’t sign up using an email address, there’s no way for us to email you—so you’ll need to contact us.

How do I add or transfer a student?
  1. Go to www.speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Account” in the upper right corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen, click School Roster. The screen that opens will say Student Roster for (School Name). Make sure that you are on the Student Roster by looking for the yellow Student box at the top of the screen.
  3. Click on the blue outlined box that reads, Add Student.
  4. Next, answer the question, “Does this person already have an NSDA ID number, because they competed at another school (MS or HS), or have already created an account?”
  5. If answered yes, then you can add the student’s first name, last name and state and click Search or enter the student ID number and click, Search.
  6. Review the results to find the correct student and then click Transfer and Confirm.
  7. If answered no, then you can add the student’s first name, middle name, last name, email address and grad year and then click the box that the student agrees to the NSDA Honor Code, and click Add.

How do I add or transfer a coach?
  1. Go to www.speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Account” in the upper right corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen, click School Roster. The screen that opens will say Student Roster for (School Name). Make sure that you are on the Coach Roster by looking for the yellow Coaches box at the top of the screen.
  3. Click on the blue outlined box that reads, Add Coach.
  4. Next, answer the question, “Does this person already have an NSDA ID number, either because they competed or coached at another school (MS or HS), or have already created an account?”
  5. If answered yes, then you can add the coach’s first name, last name, and state and click Search or enter their coach ID number and click Search.
  6. Review the results to find the correct coach and then click Transfer and Confirm.
  7. If answered no, then you can the coach’s first name, last name, and email address and then click the box that the coach agrees to the NSDA Honor Code, then click Add and Confirm.

Note: If you need to add a student into a coaching roster (because they’ve graduated and are now coaching), you must search for them using the name they used while competing or you can enter their ID number from their high school student record. When the new coach is added, they will be listed with all of the points they earned as a high school competitor.

If the student (who is now a coach) graduated prior to 1996, they will not be in our system but will be in our paper files. Please send an email to info@speechanddebate.org with the coach’s name, the school and state they are coaching at, as well as their name when they graduated from high school, the school and state they graduated from, and the grad year. Once we have this information, we can manually add their high school points to their new coaching record.

How do advisors accept linked account requests?

Advisors must approve student and coach accounts that are attempting to be linked to a school.

  1. Go to www.speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click the “Account” button, in the upper right-hand corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen, click on School Roster. The screen that opens will say Student Roster for <School Name>.
  3. Scroll to where you see a shaded rectangle that reads There are pending access requests (number of requests) to the school. Click the “View Requests” button.
  4. When the next screen loads, click Merge to merge students or coach to any existing records by using the drop down box next to their name. When merging, be sure you check the drop down list in case a student registered under a slightly different name (e.g., “Carlos Cortes” vs. “John Carlos Cortes”). If the student or coach isn’t already on your roster, click Create New. Once you’ve chosen to merge or create new, click the blue rectangle to the right to confirm.

 

Need a Visual?  Click to watch our brief tutorial! (Merging Accounts | Creating New)
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How do I link students to my school in Tabroom?
  1. When logged in to Tabroom.com, click your school under Institutions from the menu on the right. If you do not see Institutions on the right, click your email at the top of the page.
  2. Next, click the Competitors tab.
  3. From the menu on the right (under NSDA Points), click Import NSDA Competitor Roster.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Import Students.
  5. Your NSDA Roster is now synced with Tabroom.com. Anytime a change or add is done on the NSDA side, you must follow the steps above in order to “sync” again.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch a video demonstration!

School Finances

How do I purchase a coach membership?

Advisors can purchase a coach membership for themselves or another coach by following these steps:
1. Go to speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Account” in the upper right corner, which will take you to your profile page.
2. Click “School Roster” then “Coaches” tab
3. Click and coach who has the word “Buy” in the “Paid” column
4. The next screen shows only those coaches whose individual membership has not been invoiced yet
Toggle the button, from the left to the right for a coach you want to create an invoice for (Note: prepaid memberships do not apply to coaches, only students)
5. Click the button, “Create Invoice and Proceed to Checkout”
6. In the next screen, you can do any of the following: (make these bullets)
Click “Pay Now” to pay with a credit card
Click “Invoices” and then the invoice number then
Click button, “Email Invoice” to email the invoice to yourself
Click button, “Download PDF” to download the invoice to print so you can give to your finance office
Click button, “Pay Now” to pay with a credit card

Download our helpful flow chart with step-by-step instructions on purchasing individual coaching memberships.

Need a Visual? Click here to watch our brief tutorial!

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How do I purchase individual student memberships?

How it works: Advisors must select the students for which they’d like to buy memberships and create invoices for those memberships. Note: If you created an invoice for pre-paid memberships and the prepaid invoice is paid in full, please see “How do I generate an invoice and apply pre-paid student memberships?

  1. Go to speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click “Account” in the upper right corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen, click on School Roster. The screen that opens will say Student Roster for <School Name>.
  3. Next to each student’s name (in the Member column) will either be a blue checkmark or a red circle with a line through it and the word Buy. Click Buy next to any student and the next screen will show all of the students whose memberships need to be paid.
  4. Use the slider to the left of each name to select which students you wish to add to your invoice. Once you’ve selected the appropriate names, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue outlined box that says Create Invoice and Proceed to Checkout.
  5. The screen will show a red rectangle that reads Your balance of <$XX.XX> is outstanding. Next to that text will be a blue button that reads Pay Now. When you click that button, you’ll be taken to the invoice screen.
  6. Click on the blue number for the invoice you’d like to pay, then choose and provide the required payment method information, and then click the blue outlined box that says Pay. If you’re paying by credit card, you must pay your entire balance. To pay individual invoices, we ask that you print the invoice, include a check, and mail to to us at our West Des Moines office.

Need a Visual? Click here to watch our brief tutorial!

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How do I apply pre-paid student memberships?
How it works: The prepaid membership invoice must be marked as paid in full in order to apply individual memberships using the prepaid monies.
  1. From the “School Roster” student tab, click on the “Buy” button
  2. Next, toggle the button for each student’s membership you want to purchase so it includes the fee in the total
  3. Check the box, “Use Prepaid?” for each student you want applied to the prepaid amount (after checking the box, it will tell you how many you have used and how many you have left). If you are not seeing the “Use Prepaid” box after toggling a student, then the invoice is not paid in full yet. Do not proceed until the invoice is paid or you will be invoiced for those members toggled
  4. If the prepaids cover the entire invoice, the total should show 0.00 at the bottom of the page
  5. Create the invoice and proceed to checkout

Need a Visual? Click here to watch a video demonstration!

How do I retrieve an old invoice?
  1. Go to speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click the “Account” button, in the upper right-hand corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen, click on School Finances and you’ll be taken to a page with a blue bar that has several different options including Invoices. Click on Invoices and you’ll see a chart with all the invoices you’ve created.
  3. Select the invoice you are looking for by clicking on the blue invoice number, and it will open that invoice.
  4. On the invoice screen, you have the options of emailing the invoice, downloading it as a PDF, or paying the invoice. To print an invoice, first download it as a PDF and then print the PDF.

Need a Visual?  Click here to watch our brief tutorial!

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How do I make a payment?
  1. Go to www.speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Once you’ve logged in, click the “Account” button, in the upper right-hand corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen, click on School Finances. If you have an outstanding balance, the next page will have a red rectangle that reads Your balance of <$XX.XX> is outstanding. Next to that text will be a blue button that reads Pay Now. When you click that button, you’ll be taken to the invoice screen.
  3. Click on the blue number for the invoice you’d like to pay, then choose and provide the required payment method information, and then click the blue outlined box that says Pay. If you’re paying by credit card, you must pay your entire balance. To pay individual invoices, we ask that you print the invoice, include a check, and mail to us at our West Des Moines office.
How do I activate auto billing for memberships?
  1. Go to www.speechanddebate.org and click Member Login in the top right corner of the page. Use your username and password to log in to your account. Click the “Account” button, in the upper right-hand corner, which will take you to your profile page.
  2. On the left side of your screen, click on School Profile. The screen that opens will say your school’s name at the top in blue.
  3. Scroll down to where it says Autobill 25+ pts: and click the toggle button to activate auto billing. An orange pop up will come on your screen that asks you to confirm this change. Click Confirm. The toggle will then turn blue.
  4. Once you’ve completed this process, an invoice will be created for unpaid memberships on the 1st and 15th of each month. You’ll have 30 days to pay that invoice.

Please see the How to Retrieve an Old Invoice and How to Make a Payment instructions on this page for help finding and paying for invoices.

How do I generate an invoice and apply a credit to my school membership?
  1. Log in to your NSDA account on www.speechanddebate.org and click “Account” in the top right corner of the page. Note: Clicking on “School Profile” from your profile will show details about your school, including your current balance. A negative balance (i.e. $-200) indicates the amount of available credit to use for paying invoices.
  2. Click on the “Renew School” button in the column along the left-hand side of your profile page. This button will appear in red.
  3. Review all of your school’s information to ensure that it is accurate and up to date. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Next Step”. Review your coaches roster for accuracy and click “Next Step” again.
  4. Select all memberships for which you would like to make a purchase. The school’s membership of $149 (high school) or $75 (middle school) will be automatically selected. You can also choose to purchase the Resource Package and prepaid individual memberships. Once you have selected everything you would like to purchase, click “Create Invoice and Proceed to Checkout.”
  5. After creating the invoice, you will see that the credit that you had on your account was automatically applied to the invoice you created. If the credit covered the entire invoice, you will see the invoice as Paid with $0 due. If the credit covered only a portion of the invoice total, you will see the modified total needed to pay at the bottom. For example, if you have $51 in credit and create an invoice for the school’s membership of $149, the total on the invoice will now show up as $98. Once your entire invoice for prepaid membership has been paid, your membership will activate automatically.

Need a Visual? Click here to watch our brief tutorial!

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Competition and Rules

Where can I find a complete set of rules?
The complete set of rules is located in our Unified Manual.

Be sure to read the complete sections on event rules and note that the newest revisions to rules are indicated with a yellow highlight and items with a gray highlight are a year old. A complete revision history is in the back of the manual, too.

Finally, we update our manual after Board meetings. Watch our newsletters for alerts about changes.

I'm unsure about a rule. How do I get clarification?
There are some casebook scenarios that are part of the Unified Manual which may shed light on how rules are interpreted. However, you can always email info@speechanddebate.org to get a clarification after reading the manual.
How do I suggest a rule change?
The NSDA Board of Directors has a committee that examines competition rules throughout the year. You can submit recommended rules changes using our online form.

For your proposal to have the greatest clarity, please include the original rule that exists and the suggested revision. If it’s an addition, indicate where in the manual you think it would make the most sense and why. Finally, provide a clear rationale to be considered.

How are debate topics chosen?
There are different processes for selecting Policy Debate compared to Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate topics.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) handles selection of the annual Policy Debate topic. Each state organization, the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA), the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL), and the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) all have voting privileges. The national office submits one vote on behalf of the NSDA following voting by the membership.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Public Forum Debate have topic wording committees that accept topic ideas from the membership, discuss topic areas, and craft language for resolutions. Resolutions are then forwarded to the membership for vote by students and coaches during each voting period.

If you have topic ideas, please use our topic submission forms to forward your suggestions to the appropriate committee. Visit our Topics page for more details!

Can I earn points for participation in Model United Nations?
Yes, you may earn points for MUN, Mock Trial, and several other types of events, including theatre performances. Review the Unified Manual for information on recording points for service, non-competitive events, or non-Association events.
To see FAQs related to Interp rules, click here.

District Qualification Series

I’ve never attended a district tournament before. How does it work?
The district tournament series is unique from many tournament experiences. It is called a series because many districts hold qualifying tournaments for different events on different dates. High school students who compete at the district tournament are attempting to qualify for a chance to compete at the National Speech & Debate Tournament.

The tournament series is run by your District Committee, which is a group of five individuals elected by the members of your district. Lean on them for guidance to help make sense of the process because the tournament is distinct in how it operates from many other tournaments during the year.

One of the unique aspects of the tournament is that students may not compete in the tournament without being members with a Degree of Merit (see the Eligibility Requirements FAQ below). Also, the number of entries afforded a school is limited based upon the school’s overall strength. Given the standards for entry, getting an opportunity to compete at the district tournament is an honor for your student.

What are the eligibility requirements for entering the NSDA district tournament?
Schools must be members of the NSDA. To join the NSDA please visit www.speechanddebate.org/join.

Individual students must be paid members with at least 25 points in the Honor Society (10 points of which must be from competition, not service). Each student must be officially registered as a member user on the NSDA’s website.

For addition membership and point requirements, please review our Unified Manual.

If there’s anything we can do to help you with the process, please email info@speechanddebate.org.

What do I need to know about partner events with national qualification?

Students can only participate in one event at the National Tournament, which we refer to as single entry. Partnered events always take precedence; e.g., you may not leave your partner behind. If students qualify in a partner event, that event must be taken to Nationals unless both students qualify in another event. A student’s preferences must be indicated on the Single Entry Letter of Intent prior to the start of the district qualifying tournament.

If students are double entered in two partner events (e.g., Public Forum and Duo) students must have the same partner in both events. If one partner is not able to attend the National Tournament, other partners may not be substituted, and the remaining student cannot take the other event—the partnership event will be dropped entirely. There is an exception to this rule if the partner events are held on separate weekends. Review the Unified Manual for additional details.

Be sure to review all rules related to partnership events by downloading the High School Unified Manual or email info@speechanddebate.org with follow-up questions.

National Speech & Debate Tournament

Who is eligible to compete at the National Tournament?
The National Speech & Debate Tournament is the largest academic competition in the world and serves as the capstone experience for thousands of speech and debate students each year. The event is hosted in a different city each summer and brings more than 4,500 students from more than 1,200 schools from across the country, U.S. territories, and select guest countries together for a week of rigorous competition to determine national champions. High school students in the United States compete to attend Nationals through the district qualification series. International schools who are interested in attending the tournament can reach out to info@speechanddebate.org.

The Middle School National Speech & Debate Tournament is an open invitational that attracts more than 850 students from 160 schools from across the country, U.S. territories, and select guest countries. Various public speaking, literary performance, and debate events are offered, which are modeled after the high school National Tournament. Other less-competitive events allow additional fun opportunities for students to exercise their skills.

When does online tournament registration open?
High school registration opens in March for schools who have qualified entries at nationals.tabroom.com. Your district chair will alert you when registration has opened. Review more information in the High School Unified Manual.

Middle school registration opens in March at msnats.tabroom.com. Review more information in the Middle School Unified Manual.

Please note that reservations for the National Tournament hotel block opened January 15. Staying in the block will save you $25 per student on tournament registration fees. Any reservations for hotels within the block must be completed through our housing system found on the Nationals page.

Professional Development

What is NSDA Professional Accreditation? Why should a teacher obtain accreditation?
The National Speech & Debate Association is proud to recognize outstanding members for their expertise in coaching and teaching speech and debate. Our Professional Accreditation Program recognizes coaches and educators who are committed to furthering their education and skills to better meet the needs of their students.

In an educational climate where school administrators and districts look for documentation of professional development and recognition for activity in the profession, as a respected and established high school speech and debate organization, the National Speech & Debate Association strives to meet that need through our Professional Accreditation Program.

More information about the Professional Accreditation Program, including the necessary requirements and paperwork, can be found under the Programs tab.

What kinds of professional development does the NSDA offer to coaches and teachers?
In Fall 2019, the NSDA will move its professional development courses and discussion boards to our own website so we can improve our offerings by incorporating materials available exclusively to NSDA members. A plus: no additional login required! This new platform, NSDA Learn, will be home to our new set of self-paced online professional development courses. It can be accessed by any paid member coach via their NSDA Account page. Visit www.speechanddebate.org/learn to get started!
What kinds of resources and training does the NSDA offer to new coaches?
Coaches are such an important part of the speech and debate experience. For coaches who are new to the activity or new to coaching, beginning in August of 2019, we will offering a self-paced, free, online course for new coaches as part of our professional development portal, NSDA LEARN. This course will cover most of the basic and foundational things a coach needs to know to start the season off successfully. It also puts new coaches directly into contact with our staff. Visit our Professional Development page for more information.

Also, they can access our Teacher in a Box curriculum. The Teacher in a Box series provides lesson plans and supplemental materials for novice teachers and novice debaters and cover Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, and Policy Debate.

Furthermore, all coaches are more than welcome to email our Education and Recognition Coordinator Lauren McCool with questions, concerns, and ideas.

Recognition

What are the types of recognition that students can earn?
In addition to awards for competitive success, students can earn the following awards and recognition from the National Speech & Debate association:

All American

Academic All American

District Student of the Year

William Woods Tate, Jr., National Student of the Year

National Exemplary Student Service Award

Graduation Honor Cords

Descriptions of and requirements for these awards can be found on our Student Recognition page.

What are the types of recognition that teachers/coaches can earn?
Coaches/Teachers at National Speech & Debate Association member schools are eligible for several awards that recognize their service to students, their schools, their communities, and the national organization. Those awards include:

Ruby and Diamond Coaching Awards

Hall of Fame Induction

Don Crabtree Distinguished Service Awards

District Leader Commendations

Frank Sferra Director’s Commendation

District Coach of the Year Award

James M. Copeland Coach of the Year Award

Assistant Coach of the Year Award (district and national level)

New Coach of the Year Award (district and national level)

Middle School Coach of the Year Award

National Educator of the Year Award

Descriptions of and requirements for these awards can be found on our Coach Recognition page.

What are the types of recognition that schools can earn?
The National Speech & Debate Association highlights the academic value of speech and debate activities within school systems. Every year, schools from across the country are awarded for their commitment to speech and debate activities and the learning opportunities they provide to their students. Those awards include:

Charter Status

Leading Chapter Award

Club Awards

Top 100 Schools

High School Administrator of the Year Award (district and national level)

Middle School Administrator of the Year Award

Descriptions of and requirements for these awards can be found on our School Recognition page.

What are the types of recognition that schools can earn as part of the National Tournament?
During the annual National Tournament, highly successful programs can earn awards based upon their competitive success. These awards include:

Bruno E. Jacob Trophy

Schools of Outstanding Distinction

Speech or Debate School of Excellence

Speech or Debate School of Honor

Senator Karl E. Mundt Sweepstakes Trophy

The Unger Cup

Descriptions of and requirements for these awards can be found on our School Recognition page.

Interp FAQs

Where do I find a complete set of the Interp rules?
The complete set of rules is located in our Unified Manual.

Be sure to read the complete sections on event rules as well as publication guidelines. You may also review other Frequently Asked Questions related to Interp on this web page. If you have specific questions after reviewing the material, email us at info@speechanddebate.org with the subject line “Interp Rules” for further clarification.

Click here for a list of websites approved for use in Interp by the NSDA or to submit websites for review by our staff.

May I use anything on one of the approved websites?
Content on the approved websites must be in HTML format. For example, you may not transcribe a video posted on one of the approved websites. In addition, content that violates other provisions of the rules, such as organizational Twitter feeds or other social media that are embedded on the main site, may not be approved. If you have specific questions, please email info@speechanddebate.org with the subject line “Interp Rules” for further clarification.
May I use YouTube or other video sites?
No, YouTube videos are not allowed to be transcribed. Movie scripts may not be transcribed and sites that allow for users to upload personal transcriptions of movies are also not allowed.
May I use content from a periodical website, such as The New York Times or Time Magazine?
Yes, websites with editorial review are eligible for use. However, they must be submitted for review and approval and appear in our list of approved websites before being used in competition.
May I use song lyrics in my Interp pieces?
The NSDA considers song lyrics to fall under the category of poetry. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. The lyrics must be print-published or available on our approved websites list (currently, there are no song lyric sites that are eligible to be listed on our approved websites list). The most common sources for song lyrics are print-published sheet music or musical scores. CDs with the original booklets containing song lyrics are eligible to be used. Albums with song lyrics printed on the original covers also may be used.
  2. Events which require the material come from a single source (DI, HI, and DUO for example) may not add song lyrics unless the lyrics are found in the original, single source.
  3. Music lyrics may not be transcribed by the performer – performers and coaches should read the complete set of Interp rules found in the Unified Manual.
Under the new Interp rules, can I use a downloadable PDF?
Yes, you may use a PDF, provided that it is from a publication company (students may not create their own PDF).
What about Mushroom Cloud Press? Or SpeechGeek? Can we still use those sites?
Yes, SpeechGeek, Mushroom Cloud Press, Playscripts, and other similar websites sell scripts in PDF format. Under the new rules, you may use PDFs that are professionally produced from these types of companies. If you are not certain if a PDF is from a recognized publisher, please email us at info@speechanddebate.org with the subject line “Interp Rules” for further clarification.
What about Button Poetry? Or The Moth? Why can’t I use these sites?
Button Poetry and The Moth are high-profile examples of the power of the spoken word. Current rules do not allow for transcribing content from videos or podcasts. However, both Button Poetry and The Moth publish some collections of their stories in print form. Check out their websites for more information.
May I use a script I downloaded from Script-O-Rama?
Since Script-O-Rama is not a publisher (their scripts are linked to other websites), those scripts may not be eligible. Always look to the original website or source of the original PDF to determine if the site is on the approved websites list (if in HTML format) or if it meets the conditions for download (PDF/eBook).
Are Kindle or Nook acceptable under the new interpretation rules?
Yes, provided that the works are available from publication companies (students may not create their own ebooks). Students must provide an eReader for script checks.
Can I pull material from across a trilogy?
Each work in a trilogy (each play, book, etc.) is a single source. In Duo, DI, and HI students may only perform one work from a trilogy. Program Oral Interpretation (POI) allows you to pull materials from multiple works.
What is the maximum word count for transitional material?
The National Speech & Debate Association does not have a specific word count for transitional material. However, this does not mean that any original material is acceptable. Changes to the script may only be used for the purpose of transition or to eliminate profane language. Transitions may be used to clarify the logical sequence of ideas. They are not to be used for the purpose of embellishing the humorous or dramatic effect of the literature.

Any word changes (to eliminate profane language) and/or additions (for transition) must be indicated clearly in ink on the script. Failure to clearly indicate the addition of words will be subject to disqualification.

If you have any questions about a script, please email info@speechanddebate.org with the subject line “Interp Rules” for further clarification.

Does off-stage focus apply to eyes, body, or both?
Here is the full question:

The rules say, “In Duo Interpretation, focus may be direct during the introduction [the performers may look at each other] but must be indirect [off-stage] during the performance itself.” Is looking at each other considered looking each other in the eyes, their body, or both? In other words, could a performer look at the hand of their partner during a performance?

That is an excellent question, and the answer may be interpreted differently depending upon regional norms (there may even be variation in your specific state—some states have limitations in movement and focus delineated in their rules). In some contexts, only eye contact would be a violation of that rule, whereas in other contexts, looking directly at your partner in any way may result in lower scores by the judges.

To be safe in most contexts, you may want to gaze past the hand itself (the hand will be in your peripheral vision so you can tell where you are) so that you maintain off-stage focus.

May I touch the floor or lie on the floor during my performance?
The NSDA rules are silent with regard to touching the floor or lying on the floor. It is a choice that interpreters may make. Although students may not be disqualified for touching the floor, judges can take movement into consideration in the overall evaluation of a student’s performance.

Keep in mind that other organizations, including specific states, may have rules with regard to interacting with the floor, in addition to other limits on movement.

May I walk around in Prose?
NSDA rules are silent with regard to movement in our Interpretation events. It is a choice that interpreters may make. Although students may not be disqualified for walking in Prose or related events, judges can take movement into consideration in the overall evaluation of a student’s performance.

Keep in mind that other organizations, including specific states, may have rules with regard to movement that may differ from our rules.

Are works by Dr. Seuss considered prose or poetry?
Dr. Seuss is noted for writing stories in meter. For purposes of Program Oral Interpretation (which requires the use of at least two of the recognized genres of literature of prose, poetry, and drama), as well as for our supplemental events of prose and poetry, works by Dr. Seuss may be used as either prose or poetry.

Keep in mind that this may not apply to all tournaments. For example, many states have their own specific rules with regard to genres of literature and what is included in each.

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